According to a new study from Insider Paper, the sperm count of men worldwide is declining at an accelerated rate after having halved over the past 40 years, an alarming decline that requires immediate action to reverse.
The study, led by Israeli epidemiologist Hagai Levine, updates 2017 research that has come under question for only including North America, Europe, Australia and New Zealand. This new meta-analysis is the largest one ever conducted on this topic, gathering data from more than 57,000 men across 223 studies in 53 countries.
In this study, for the first time, it is shown that males in Latin America, Asia, and Africa suffer from the same reduction in sperm quantity as Europeans, North Americans, and Australians. The study’s lead author, Prof. Hagai Levine, told PTI that India is also a substantial part of this trend.
This study confirms the 2017 finding that sperm counts have halved over the past four decades with the addition of new countries. From 1973 to 2018, the concentration of sperm in men not diagnosed as infertile fell by over 51 percent, from 101.2 million to 49 million sperm per millimeter of semen. The overall sperm count decreased by 62.3% between 1973 and 2018.
“Furthermore, data suggest that this worldwide decline is continuing in the 21st century at an accelerated pace,” wrote the study published in Human Reproduction Update.
Sperm counts are dropping at a rate of around 1.1 percent a year, the research found.
“We have a serious problem on our hands that, if not mitigated, could threaten mankind’s survival,” the study’s lead author, Hagai Levine, said.
“It’s just unbelievable. I couldn’t believe it myself,” Levine told Euronews Next.
The fact that these findings were confirmed across the rest of the world points to a global crisis that could be compared to climate change, according to Levine.
The authors warn that partners throughout the world may have difficulty conceiving a child without medical assistance since the mean sperm count has fallen close to the borderline that causes difficulties in conception.
According to Sarah Martins da Silva, a reproductive medicine expert at Scotland’s University of Dundee who was not involved in the study, sperm counts have declined by double since 2000.
“And we genuinely don’t know why,” she stated. “Exposure to pollution, plastics, smoking, drugs and prescribed medication, as well as lifestyle, such as obesity and poor diet, have all been suggested to be contributory factors although effects are poorly understood and ill-defined.”
Some experts have stated that the findings of this study do not resolve their concerns regarding the 2017 study.
“I remain concerned about the quality of the data in the papers that were published, particularly in the far past,”Allan Pacey told AFP, referring to the papers on which the analysis is based.
As Pacey noted, he praised the investigation as a “very elegant meta-analysis” and personally believes that we have “simply gotten better” at counting sperm, which contributes to the reason why the rates continue to fall.